Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death earlier this week left a number of projects hanging in development limbo—not the least of which is Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2. Producers for that film, however, have found a workaround to the tragedy: digitally recreate Hoffman for his unfilmed scenes.
Prior to his death, Hoffman had finished a vast majority of his scenes for Mockingjay Part 1 as head gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee, though he still had about a week of work left on Part 2. The studio reportedly entertained replacing Hoffman with another actor, but instead settled on employing CGI to digital recreate Hoffman’s likeness in those scenes.
“These days the technology of using someone’s likeness is a whole lot easier to do,” special effects supervisor Rob Legato told The Hollywood Reporter. “I won’t say you could generate a Philip Seymour Hoffman with all the acting ability, but you could certainly replicate him for a shot or two.”
Yes, but should you? While this is probably good news for the Hunger Games production crew, it’s important to note that this has never been done before—at least not in this way. For example, when Heath Ledger died while filming The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, the crew faced a similar decision. Ultimately, the crew of that film employed a combo of Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell to fill the gap.
What they didn’t do, though, was mock up a digital version of a recently deceased, beloved star—probably because that could be viewed as a little insensitive. But, hey, at least it won’t slow shooting down. Right?